All the hubub: Saskatchewan works as a potential CFL hub

Photo courtesy: Joel Gasson

The announcement we all expected finally came: the CFL regular season won’t start until at least September.

If it starts at all.

This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone. The September timeline is one that’s been bandied about in CFL circles for some time now as the most likely start date should there be a season this year.

If games actually happen or not is an entirely different question at this point. If fans will be allowed to attend said games or not is another.

Another question the CFL is currently trying to answer is where will the games be played? At this point, it feels like teams playing in their home stadium feels like the clubhouse leader based on the commissioner’s comments during his town hall.

The other option on the table, one that leagues across North America are looking at, are hub cities. Essentially, you’d isolate players, coaches, football ops people, and so on in one place. The idea is that it’s potentially easier to keep everyone safe.

Whether this is economically viable for a league that’s going to be losing money this season regardless is an entirely different question. One that is probably making the league lean toward teams playing at home. There’s also a human angle, is it fair to isolate everyone from their family for a number of months for our entertainment?

If the CFL does go forward with a hub city for the league or one for each division, then Saskatchewan makes perfect sense as one of the locations.

One of the knocks (a fair one) on Regina as a Grey Cup host is the lack of hotel availability. So, why would Regina suddenly be able to host a few teams? Well, no one’s travelling and using hotels right now. Space won’t be an issue for lodging players.

I’m sure hotels would be more than willing to work with the league right now for two to three months of guaranteed business. There’s also likely going to be plenty of dorms sitting empty at the University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan.

There’s also more than enough top-notch facilities around that each team could have its own practice location.

In this scenario, I’d say Mosaic Stadium is off-limits for practice. It makes it fair for every team and it’s also safer than running a few teams through there on a given day.

So, where would they practice? In Regina alone, there’s a field house across the parking lot from Mosaic Stadium, a field at the University of Regina and Leibel Field. If teams wanted to there’s another great field house in Moose Jaw as well. That’s only 45 minutes from Regina. If a team is willing to take bus rides to games in Regina, there’s also Griffiths Stadium, SMF Field, and the indoor soccer centre in Saskatoon among others.

With the facilities available, the entire league could probably set up shop in the province if they really wanted to. Add in Winnipeg if needed and everyone can be within a few hours of each other.

Add in the fact there is single-digit number of cases in both major cities in the province, there are very few reasons not to use the province as a hub for the league.

Joel Gasson is a Regina-based sports writer, broadcaster and football fanatic. He is also a beer aficionado.